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review 2018-12-17 23:58
Is Book 3 out yet?!
5 Worlds Book 2: The Cobalt Prince - Mark A. Siegel,Alexis Siegel,Boya Sun,Matt Rockefeller,Xanthe Bouma

At the beginning of the epic month of reviews (still going strong!) I talked about the first book in the 5 Worlds series and in a move no one could have predicted I now return with my review of 5 Worlds Book 2: The Cobalt Prince by Alexis & Mark Siegel with illustrations by Boya Sun, Xanthe Bouma, & Matt Rockefeller. If you haven't read that book then I suggest you skip today's review as it's bound to spoil a few plot points. The book picks right back up with the ongoing quest to defeat the Mimic who had overtaken the Cobalt Prince (ruler of the Toki people). We discover that the Toki are in fact the 'Chosen People' and that Oona and Jessa are in fact genetically altered Toki. *gasp* The last book focused primarily on the mythology surrounding the beacons while giving Oona room to discover her hidden strengths/magical abilities. Book 2 meanwhile covers a lot of ground with Oona and Jessa's past while delving further into the real deal between the segregation between the peoples in the different worlds. I really felt like the pace ramped up with this one and it was super interesting which makes it even more frustrating that the next installment doesn't come out until the spring of 2019. *grumbles* 10/10

 

I've had some conversations with parents who have kids reading this series and they've been telling me how much the kids are liking it and how much they as parents enjoy it also. If you're looking for a common denominator between you and the children in your life and books you can discuss together this is a great choice. :-D

 

Jessa in turmoil over her sister Oona[Source: Bam Smack Pow]

 

What's Up Next: Afterlife with Archie: Escape From Riverdale by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Elfquest Archives: Volume 2 by Wendy & Richard Pini

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-12-15 20:59
Talk Sweetly to Me (Brothers Sinister #4.5)
Talk Sweetly to Me (The Brothers Sinister) (Volume 5) - Courtney Milan

The final story in the Brothers Sinister series centers on Stephen Shaughnessy, who has the barest of connections ever to the core three Brothers Sinister - he writes the "Actual Man" column for Free's newspaper, and Free is Oliver's half-sister. So really, no relation at all. Stephen's a carefree chap, but I didn't get the sense from the last book that he was an unrepentant lady's man. Oh, no, don't get me wrong. He doesn't pursue all those women he sleeps with. They pursue him. So it's okay. *rolls eyes* (Really, he’s a giant goober, lol.)

 

Here he's paired up with Rose Sweetly, who we've never met previously. She's staying with her pregnant sister, Patricia, who's doctor husband is off on tour with the British army. Rose also works with an astronomer as his computer - this being back when computers were people, mostly women, who did the mathematics for scientists. Rose is indeed sweet, dedicated to her job and astronomy and her sister - and keeping a proper public profile. Because you see, she's black, and that comes with a whole heap of issues when dealing with middle-class life in Victorian England.

 

There is some effort to detail what sorts of challenges Rose and her sister face, but this is just really too short to delve into them much. Most of it centered around her sister's pregnancy and the raging d-bag of a doctor she has to put up with.

 

Rose is insistent throughout nearly the whole novella to keep her attraction to Stephen under wraps because she knows how easily and quickly her reputation could be destroyed by mere association with Stephen. Most of her concern seems to be based on Stephen's reputation as a lady's man, with no consideration to her own social and racial issues. It almost seems as if Ms. Milan was unaware of the stereotype about WOC being overly promiscuous and wanton, that Rose would already be fighting against that stigma in her every interactions with men, much less one who is known to be a player. It felt a little superficial.

 

Anyway, Stephen's a fun guy and Rose is an earnest young woman. We spend more time with Rose's POV than with Stephen's, so it was hard sometimes to guess his reaction to things. I did love his attempts to flirt with bad math puns, and that he took the time to learn more about her interests. I especially liked that he didn't even hesitate to help her sister after Rose rejected him.

 

But...I don't know. This is sort of the same issue I had with A Kiss for Midwinter and I'm going to try to keep it from getting rambly.

There are many ways for a woman to be empowered and not all of them include having sex. Very few of them do actually. But here we are again with a woman giving up her principles and giving into hormones whereas the man doesn't have to compromise at all - the Sandra Dee effect, if you will. There's no reason that sex scene couldn't have been in an epilogue after they were married, you know? Not to mention that French letters were hardly equivalent to modern-day condoms but are treated in these stories as if they're fool-proof when really they're just better than nothing. And I'm not saying that Rose should have conducted herself in any specific way because of idiotic stereotypes, far from it, but given her characterization up to that point, coupled with her exhaustion and emotional vulnerability from being up all night with her laboring sister, did make this a little weird for me. It didn't feel intimate at all to me, but felt more like it's just what the story demanded, so it happened.

(spoiler show)

Okay, that got a little rambly, and I'm not sure it made much sense, but there you go.

 

So as I said, this needed to be longer to make me really buy this resolution and this pairing, cute as they were together.

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review 2018-12-10 05:51
Days Without End (Audiobook)
Days Without End - Sebastian Barry,Aidan A. Kelly

Narration: 5 stars

Story: 3.5 stars

Final rating: 4 stars

 

It was my week for strange stories. This isn't even a story in the traditional sense. This reads more like a rambling memoir but with language so intimate and lush that I could easily forget that I was only really getting broad brushstrokes for the bulk of the story. This is mostly a summation of a young man's life as he figures out some hard-won truths.

 

Told from the POV of Thomas McNulty, an Irish immigrant, as we follow him and his friend turned lover John Cole across America in the mid-1800s. Survivors of the famine, they come to America with nothing, practically starved to death, and start to figure out how to survive from one day to the next, whether that's playacting as girls in a stage show or joining the Army to fight in the Indian Wars and eventually the Civil War.

 

This book doesn't shy away from the harsh reality of this time period in American history, nor does it give us safely and comfortably progressive-minded MCs to filter that reality through. Thomas and John Cole might not be outright hateful of anyone but they don't stop to ask why they're being given the orders they're given nor do they spend much time if any contemplating the morality of the slaughter of the First Peoples. Not at first. As Thomas notes at one point, no soldier fully understands the war he fights in; he only knows his one part in it. 

 

I was most interested in Thomas's and John's non-Army days, while they were living together and eventually with their adopted daughter Winona, a Sioux orphan, but those parts were sparse safe harbors in between all the violence and war of those times. The ending, such as it was, is more open-ended than anything else. 

I would have preferred a reunion between Thomas, John and Winona instead of just Thomas looking forward to it.

(spoiler show)

 

The narration by Aiden Kelly was truly amazing. He captures Thomas's bewildered voice perfectly and truly makes this oddly mesmerizing story come to life. 

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review 2018-12-05 23:41
Like sand through the hourglass
5 Worlds Book 1: The Sand Warrior - Boya Sun,Matt Rockefeller,Xanthe Bouma,Mark A. Siegel,Alexis Siegel

5 Worlds Book 1: The Sand Warrior by Alexis & Mark Siegel with illustrations by Boya Sun & Matt Rockefeller is the first book in a fantasy series set in a place where magic plays a distinct and politically polarizing role. In this universe, all 5 worlds in the system (different types of beings live on the different worlds) are kept in careful balance with one another until they suddenly start to die for unknown reasons. There are some that believe their only hope of survival is to light all 5 beacons (one in each world) but the Toki peoples are adamantly set against this course. Our heroine, Oona Lee, is a less than stellar student of the Sand Dancer Academy (inexpertly wielding magic sand) and suddenly she finds herself swept up in a seemingly foolhardy attempt to save the universe before time runs out. There's intrigue, danger, and a health dose of racial tension just to stir the pot. I've recommended this to quite a few kids and all of them have enjoyed it because all of those heavy topics are real and kids can spot a fake from a mile away. Additionally, I thought the art style of this book was really unique and beautiful which made it even more astounding when I discovered that the book was a collaborative effort between people living in different parts of the world. Talk about life not imitating art! 10/10 and you can look forward to my review of the second book in the series in a few days. XD

 

SO. GORGEOUS. [Check out the source for larger images: 5 Worlds Team]

 

What's Up Next: Tucker Grizzwell's Worst Week Ever by Bill Schorr and Ralph Smith

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-11-18 19:19
Dangerous Spirits (Spirits #2)
Dangerous Spirits - Jordan L. Hawk

I don't have much to say about this one. It was fun, and the ghost story was less obvious than in the first book, but I still figured it out way before the characters did and it still follows all the usual tropes. Henry does a stupid thing at the beginning of the book and then lies about it for the next 75% of it. Vincent is also holding things back, so all the relationship angst is based on them not talking or trusting each other. I did like the background that we get about Vincent and Lizzie and their mentor Dunne, and the climax was sufficiently tense. Overall though, this is pretty average.

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